Short album reviews by The Prog Yak. No puffery here, just a simple review and score from 1 to 5 yaks! Have a new album you'd like The Prog Yak to review? Let us know.
The Fall of the Shires
Prog music, at its core, is characterized by its dynamic shifts and intricate structures, but what sets certain Prog works apart is their compellingly melodic voyage, offering listeners an escapist portal to worlds far removed from our everyday reality. As champions of the more accessible side of the genre, we at Prog Radio were thrilled to sink our ears into the transcendent sounds of Oblivion Protocol's debut album, "The Fall of the Shires." Fronted by Richard West – the force behind the keys for British prog-metal pioneers, Threshold – this album emerges as a captivating sequel to Threshold’s ‘Legends of the Shires.’
West's decision to craft a follow-up to ‘Legends of the Shires’ – a choice stemming from a personal desire to remain in that universe a bit longer – is one that will resonate deeply with fans. This new offering is not merely a continuation; it is an evolution. Oscillating somewhere between the nuanced sounds of Rush, Steven Wilson, Pink Floyd's ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ epoch, and the hard rock maestros, Ghost--Oblivion Protocol crafts a sonically dense experience. Richard’s distinct vocal timbre, combined with the atmospheric keyboard arrangements, ties this album back to its predecessor, yet showcases its own unique identity. Fans familiar with the previous saga will revel in the intricate references that pay homage to the first chapter, all while being swept up in the grandeur of Oblivion Protocol’s magnificent aural tapestry.
The band is no less than a supergroup, a communion of gifted musicians who've previously lent their prowess to the likes of Within Temptation, Darkwater, and Devin Townsend. Richard's camaraderie with these maestros, including some entrancing guitar solos from Threshold's own Karl Groom, sets the stage for musical excellence.
...a wonderful album that bridges the grandiosity of 70s prog with the infectious appeal of contemporary pop.
Plot-wise, “The Fall of the Shires” weaves a tale darker than its predecessor. Exploring the ramifications of the protagonist's ascent to kingship, the narrative delves into themes of power, oppression, and control, rendering the Shires unrecognizable from its earlier depiction. Echoes of legendary prog concept albums such as “The Wall” and “Operation:Mindcrime” can be felt, their shared dystopian underpinnings giving weight to the unfolding narrative.
Richard’s passion for prog rock, and especially for concept albums, shines through every note and lyric. His fond memories of yearning to craft such intricate narratives during his school days find fulfillment in the sweeping arcs of both ‘Legends’ and this latest masterpiece. His dedication to preserving the sanctity of the album format is evident, believing in its power to transport listeners into immersive universes, making for an artistic experience unparalleled by mere singles.
This record hits Prog Radio’s sweet spot of melodic and accessible Prog with full force. Not a bad track to be found among the eight. "The Fall of the Shires" is a wonderful album that bridges the grandiosity of 70s prog with the infectious appeal of contemporary pop. This album, penned and produced entirely by Richard West, is a testament to unbridled artistic vision. It is, as we at Prog Radio can attest, a 5-Yak musical journey that every melodic prog enthusiast should embark upon.
Keep tuned in to Prog Radio where you’ll experience several of the tracks from this fantastic record.
Aug 18, 2023
The Fall, Pt. 2 • This Is Not a Test • Vertigo • The Fall, Pt. 1
The Prog Yak